Louisiana-Monroe hires former Auburn and Akron coach Terry Bowden

Nick Bromberg
·3 min read

Terry Bowden is once again an FBS head coach.

Louisiana-Monroe announced Wednesday that it has hired the former Auburn and Akron coach as its new head coach. Bowden, 64, replaces Matt Viator. ULM fired Viator a few days after the team dropped to 0-10 on the year. ULM’s final game of the year against Troy was canceled.

Bowden’s most-recent head-coaching job was at Akron before he spent the last two seasons as an offensive analyst at Clemson.

"We're extremely excited to welcome Terry Bowden to our Warhawk family as head football coach," ULM athletic director Scott McDonald said. "He brings a winning pedigree to our program. He has won at all levels of college football, beginning as the youngest head coach in the country in his first job at Salem College and continued that through his tenures at Samford and Auburn, where he consistently competed for SEC Championships. He followed with success at North Alabama and at Akron, where he led the Zips to their first bowl victory in school history."

The son of former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden was Auburn’s head coach from 1993-98. Auburn went 11-0 in Bowden’s first season with the team and then was 9-1-1 in 1994. That turned out to be Bowden’s best two seasons with the team. Auburn was 8-4 the next two seasons and then 10-3 in 1997. Bowden was then fired six games into the 1998 season after the Tigers started 1-5.

Akron head coach Terry Bowden with his team against Northwestern before an NCAA college football game in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
Akron head coach Terry Bowden with his team against Northwestern before an NCAA college football game in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Can Bowden turn around ULM like he did Akron?

After his time at Auburn ended, Bowden spent more than a decade out of coaching before resurfacing at North Alabama for three seasons. His work at UNA — a 29-9 record from 2009-11 — helped him move back to the FBS level at Akron.

Bowden was at Akron from 2012-18 and went 35-52 as the team’s head coach. Akron was 8-5 and won the Potato Bowl in 2015 and was 7-7 in 2017, a season that included an appearance in the MAC title game. Bowden was fired after the 2018 season when the Zips went 4-8.

In a statement, Bowden said he was contacted about the ULM job back in 2015 when he was still at Akron. Five years later, Bowden is headed to Monroe.

“I got introduced to ULM back after the 2015 season when a contingent flew up to Akron and talked to me about the job. They did a great job of selling me on the potential of this program and the commitment they had to turning it around,” Bowden said. “Although the timing just wasn't quite right, I did remember feeling that with my success at places like this, and my desire to get back down South to a college town very much like Auburn and Clemson, that this was a perfect place for me to be. I felt then that I was the best guy they could find to build a winner at ULM and I still do."

ULM is clearly looking for Bowden to turn the program around like he did at Akron. The Zips have been to just three bowls in school history and had only gone to a bowl in 2005 before Bowden arrived at the school. Akron has gone 1-17 in the two years since Bowden’s dismissal.

Louisiana-Monroe hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2012 when it went to the Independence Bowl at the end of an 8-4 regular season. Since then, ULM hasn’t won more than six games in a season and enters 2021 on an 11-game losing streak. ULM last won on Nov. 23, 2019 when it beat Coastal Carolina 45-42.

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